The National Liberal Party (PNL) is meeting in congress, on Saturday, to choose the new chairman of party, between incumbent Ludovic Orban, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, and Prime Minister Florin Citu.
In the Liberals reunion, which will take place at Romexpo starting 11:00 hrs, 5,000 delegates from throughout the country are expected to participate.
President Klaus Iohannis also announced his presence in the PNL Congress, Agerpres informs.
Prime Minister Florin Citu rejected all accusations according to which this congress was illegally organized, with so many participants, given the legal norms approved for the red scenario of the pandemic which entered into force in Bucharest on Saturday, after the rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections exceeded 3 per thousand persons.
"The PNL Congress will have a mask mandate. It's legal because it's a congress where there is a space of 3 square meters per person. There's 15,000 square meters, so, if there will be 5,000 persons, it will be legally held. After all we should move to normality, we have a vaccine, we have a certificate, we can't stop every time," said Citu. He said, in this sense, that a point of view was requested from the National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU).
The start of the PNL Congress will see speeches from the guests: President Klaus Iohannis, as well as representatives of political parties.
The current chair of the party, Ludovic Orban, will present the activity report of his mandate afterwards.
The two candidates for the position of chair of the PNL will have at their disposal 20 minutes to present their motions, followed by the speeches of five supporters for five minutes each.
The vote for the candidates in the running for chairman could start around 14:00, according to information sent by the organizers.
Ludovic Orban is running, in the congress, with the motion titled "Right's Force," while Florin Citu's run is under the motion titled "Liberal Romania."
On May 30, Prime Minister Florin Citu announced his candidacy for the PNL's chair, stating at the time that the party needs a "new breath of air."
Ludovic Orban, who previously announced he will run for a new mandate, hailed Citu's decision at the time, showing it will be a fair play competition, "a festival of democracy."
However, during the internal electoral campaign, the two brought several critiques and accusations to each other.
On September 4, the current leader of the PNL claimed this is "the ugliest campaign" he has faced in his 31 years in politics and said several times that his supporters are threatened with dismissal from public positions.
"I will tell you honestly that I have lived, since the moment of the candidacy announcement, the worst period in my life in the PNL and it is practically the ugliest campaign I have faced in 31 years in politics. You cannot campaign with 'I have the bread and the knife,' 'if you don't vote for me, you get nothing, no positions, moreover we'll fire your people," said Orban.
He also claimed the fact that even though the vote in the congress is secret, a series of county branches are trying to impose on delegates who to vote for and to be checked if they respect indications.
On September 21, the supporters of Ludovic Orban for PNL chair, among which Ionel Danca, Violeta Alexandru, Antonel Tanase, Ioan Cupsa, Adrian Oros, launched an appeal, signed by 69 Liberal deputies, senators, mayors, deputy mayors to solve the political and government crisis, in which they expressed their full conviction that the current chair of the party is the one that can remake the parliamentary majority and who can guarantee the cohesion of the party.
His opponent, Florin Citu, stated, in August, that Orban chose "a very ugly way" to exit politics.
Later, Citu and his supporters accused Ludovic Orban of doing all that is possible, as chair of the Chamber of Deputies, for the censure motion submitted by the Save Romania Union - Party of Liberty, Unity and Solidarity (USR PLUS) and the Alliance for the Union of Romanians against the Government.
Moreover, Florin Citu said that his impression is that, in the recent period, the PNL chair, Ludovic Orban, seems to be the "biggest supporter" of the censure motion.
In the context of the notice made by him to the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) regarding the existence of a legal conflict of constitutional between Parliament and the Executive on the topic of the motion, Citu announced that he will request the resignation of the chairs of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate if the decision of the Court will be in his favour. "If the Constitutional Court says we're right, the chairs of the two Chambers should go," said Florin Citu.
On September 8, the Prime Minister claimed he will never negotiate "personal interests", only "those of the PNL and Romanians".
Both Ludovic Orban and Florin Citu claimed, throughout the internal campaign, that they will win in the congress and will lead the party after September 25.
Just days before the Liberals' reunion, President Klaus Iohannis expressed his support for Florin Citu in Government, announcing he will participate in the PNL Congress.
"I encourage Florin to continue and not fear and the Liberals to stay in Government. (...) Florin Citu has no reasons to resign or be dismissed," said Iohannis, in a discussion with the journalists that accompanied him to New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The day after the Congress, on Sunday, the National Council of the PNL will take place, with 2,000 delegates, to choose the other leadership positions in the party.
In the month of September, the PNL's statute was modified, one of the changes being the increase in the number of specialty vicepresident positions to 17.